Now it’s our turn: we have launched legal proceedings against the Guardia Civil and are lodging an objection to Judge Taín.
Over the last few weeks, the animal rights movement in Spain has been the victim of an attack to try and discredit and criminalise the movement. We have not sat back however, and have now taken action. We have been in meetings with our lawyers, and can now give the following news:
Now it is our turn. We are announcing that we are going to instigate legal proceedings against the Guardia Civil for libel and for revealing facts about the investigation to the press whilst under a gag order. Likewise we are going to make a formal objection to the judge in the case, Jose Antonia Vazquez Tain, for his bias and lack of independence in the case.
The motives for starting legal proceedings against the Guardia Civil are the following:
1) The first motive is for slanderous allegations against the accused activists. The Guardia Civil have literally stated in a press release that can still be found on their web page that the animal activists arrested are responsible for property damage such as arson (which they have not committed), that they belong to the “Spanish branch” of a supposedly radical group, which is completely false. In addition they illustrate the press release with a photo of a person wearing a balaclava, implying that they are one of the arrested activists. However, this is false, as the person in the photo is neither one of the arrested activists, nor a member of neither Animal Equality or Equanimal.
2) The second motive is the revelation of details of the case while under a gagging order issued by the court. The Guardia Civil has publicly communicated details of the investigation that are meant to remain restricted (for example the findings of the search warrants, as well as a number of events under investigation.)
Likewise, for similar motives, we are announcing that we are lodging an objection to Judge Vázquez Taín, to remove him from the case. In a legal case, the role of the judge is to investigate the facts objectively, leaving to the prosecution service the role of accuser. A judge must remain independent and impartial. However, the Campaign against the Repression of the Animal Rights Movement considers that there is sufficient evidence to show that the judge possesses an attitude of ill will towards the arrested animal activists. In statements to the press, the judge has indicated that the activists “cause terror”, and therefore they can be considered “ecoterrorists”. This statement is completely absurd considering that:
1. Anyone can see that the work of the organisations Equanimal and Animal Equality have no relation to terrorism.
2. The judge himself recognises this perfectly well, as if they activists really were terrorists, they would have been prosecuted for belonging to armed gangs (something that the judge has obviously not done).
3. The arrested activists are animal defenders, and not ecologists.
In reality, this is not the only manifestation of hostility towards the arrested animal advocates. For example, when the accused were in the police cells of the Guardia Civil, they indicated that they would remain there, in their own words to the press “so that they are comfortable”, which is not only sarcasm, but clearly making fun of the activists at their expense. [Source: La Opinión de Coruña, 24 de junio de 2011].
Likewise, we consider that the judge has also published details meant to remain restricted, which should also disqualify him from continuing to conduct the investigation into the case.
In addition, we wish to underline the following. After the initial arrests, the judge ordered that three activists be remanded in custody without giving any justification for the measure. That the Provincial Court of A Coruña subsequently revoked this measure gives a signal of the farce that has been constructed in this attack against the animal rights movement. In the court order given by the Provincial Court of A Coruña to revoke the custodial sentence, the actions of the judge are strongly criticised. This reinforces what we have been repeating since the first moment the Campaign was set up: that these proceedings are a farce that must be terminated as soon as possible.